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Director : Music : Lyrics : Starring :
Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Rishi Kapoor, Rati Agnihotri, Jimmy Shergill.
By Subhash K Jha,
"And they lived unhappily ever after"....could well be the tag line to Kunal Kohli's engrossing take on the celluloid war which begins with a bang - in more ways than one - and ends with a sigh.
"Hum Tum" is a boy-meets-girl tale with no unexpected twists and turns. Its greatest USP is its disarming lack of guile.
Kohli nurtures his two protagonists' stormy relationship through several continents and a gigantic time zone that spawns more than a decade (though neither Saif nor Rani bring a change in their look or attitude, except maybe in Saif's hairstyle).
The epic design doesn't weigh down the basic levity of the romantic comedy.
And what we end up looking at isn't so much a celebration of universal love as two clumsy people grappling with the grammar of the emotion called love and who don't get the punctuations right. But director Kohli, whose earlier film "Mujhse Dosti Karoge" was clogged with incongruities, gets all the pauses and punctuations right.
He knows the man-woman relationship well enough to sketch a pungent comment on the oldest conundrum of civilization - What Do Women Want? - without resorting to farce or tragedy.
"Hum Tum" treads that titillating line between gender war and gentle romance.
If audiences are looking for an adventurous plot then they'll return empty handed from "Hum Tum". But if they're looking for mellow moments and romantic resonance, as projected into a querulous companionship spanning several seasons and songs strung together into a pop-symphony, then "Hum Tum" it is.
This is the visual version of the messages inside Valentine's Day cards.
Crisp comebacks, usually from the characteristically cocky Karan Kapoor give the central romance a cute and cutting edge. The wisdom applied to the romantic comedy might not strike as original or enlightening. But the universality of some of the film's basic theories on the man-woman axis - can a man and woman be just friends, is it as important to feel love as it is to express it -isn't distorted by the film's cute packaging.
A lot of the romantic weight is obtained from Rani's performance. Just last week in "Yuva" she was a frumpy frustrated housewife. This week she's transformed into the chic though conservative woman of the world who clings to old-world values in the hope that the new-age wisdom won't blow them away.
The delicate equipoise between traditional Indian values and yuppie sensibilities have a way of working themselves out fluently and feelingly in Yash Chopras' productions. And so it is in "Hum Tum".
Take that sequence where Karan plays a game with Rhea where they pretend to be negotiating for an arranged marriage...the sequence's spatial harmony is a joy to behold.
It's the other love story between Karan Kapoor's estranged parents, played by Rishi Kapoor and Rati Agnihotri (hadn't they played an estranged couple in Rahul Rawail's "Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi"?) which retards the flow of the Saif-Rani relationship. Did the film really need to span generations, continents and attitudes to bring the protagonists' together?
The progression from one frame of mime to another would've been smoother with a better music score.
Apart from a melodious title song, Jatin-Lalit's score disappoints deeply...or shall we say mildly, since depth isn't what "Hum Tum" seeks at any point of its narration. It aims to pin the modern man-woman relationship down to a purely pleasurable perspective.
As the incorrigible skirt-chaser and cartoonist Karan Kapoor, Saif spins out a web of wicked one-liners written by Kunal Kohli.
The comments on man-woman equations are innocuously misogynous. For example: "It's said that there's a woman behind every successful man...that's true because a woman would never run behind an unsuccessful man."
Unlike "Ek Hasina Thi" where Saif played against his own character, in "Hum Tum" he gets ample room to build on his trademark personality. Ironical, amusing and exasperating, Saif plays the perennial prankster with a heart of cool, the way only he can. His lack of vanity as an actor holds his performance in good stead.
Saif isn't averse to holding himself up for ridicule. Check out the way he parades his 'Tom Cruise haircut' to the horrified Rani, or the way he throws jokes about and at women without making them sound disgusting.
There're a number of guest appearances in small roles. Abhishek Bachchan playing Rani's husband for ten minutes offsets Saif's restless energy with his calm contemplative presence.
Rishi Kapoor is always a fine actor. He doesn't disappoint. But why the ongoing references to Kapoor's best-known romance "Bobby"? The father-son pair of Rishi and Saif don't only sing a song from Bobby on the piano at a bar in front of bemused foreigners (the global impact of Bollywood?), but when Rishi Kapoor meets his son's future mother-in-law Bobby (Kirron Kher doing a loud brassy but well intended Punjabi woman) he guffaws: "Shall I call you Dimple?"
Oh, Kunal Kohli loves Hindi movies! Everything from Raj Kapoor's "Bobby" to Arjun Sablok's "Na Tum Jano Na Hum" finds a mention in "Hum Tum" - but the narrative is never weighed down by nostalgia, nor excessively hampered by its contemporary design.
The film creates an amiable present. It celebrates the nowness of things, and gets terrific technical support from cinematographer Sunil Patel in creating a world that's mid-way between fantasy and frivolity.